Posted on April 8th, 2011
Thou still untast’d brine of mildness,
Thou foster-child of Saline and dry Thyme,
Sylvan agrarians, who must needs express
A flowing veil more oily than our rhyme:
What leaf-ringed edges flaunt about thy shape
Of peasants or popes, or of both,
In Paxi or the dales of Italy?
What spheres or globes are these? What marinades’ troth?
What meal’s pursuit? What struggle to en-paste?
What pits and promises? What wild escabeche?
Eaten meals are sweet, but those uneaten
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft shapes, sway on;
Not to the jaded tongue, but, more endear’d,
Dance to the palate plans of no tome:
Fallen fruit, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Ungathered, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold farmer, never, never canst thou waste
Though bountiful the harvest grows—yet, do not give
What thou hast made, for free, for sake of thrift,
For ever wilt thou keep a cupboard bare!
Ah, happy, happy bowls! Not full of lead
but leaves, bidding the Trees adieu;
And happy, bearing fruit unwearied,
For ever bursting forth with oil new;
More sopping bread! More drippy, soppy bread!
From oven warm and still to be enjoy’d,
From leaven starting, and for evr’y tongue;
All eating, human passion, olive love,
That leaves a heart well-omega’d and buoyed,
Alive with health, and a dancing blood.
Who are these creating salted vice?
From what green bower, O delicious beast,
This fine fat heifer lowing at the skies,
All her milk turned to cheese in press
Asleep in caves to age some more,
With mountain herbs whose flavors tell,
A story folk, a sunny morn–
A little town whose streets aloft they bore
The flowers and the grasses’ swell
To craft dairy delicate, no tongue can spurn.
O Ovoid shape! Fair olive! With green
Of spring and pastures you have brought
The grassy tastes of the twining weed;
Thou, tasty form! Dost tease us out to taste
As flower does the bee: Oil Pastoral!
When old age shall this tongue lay waste,
Thou shalt remain, stronger than even roe
In jars, from far Iran, against whom thou play’st,
Olives my food, and food, beauty—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.